Singapore: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong on Friday agreed to deepen the bilateral economic ties and build on defence cooperation as they called for a peaceful, open, and friendly maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region. The two leaders also witnessed an exchange of Memorandums of Understanding in numerous fields, including the training of public service officials, cyber security, narcotics control and logistics cooperation between the two navies.

Prime Minister Modi said that the strategic partnership between India and Singapore has stood the test of time in real sense. “We have been able to conclude successfully the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement but we agreed this is not just our target and goal but this only means to an end," Modi said in a joint press statement after holding wide-ranging discussions with Lee. “Our officials will soon begin discussions on upgrading and reforming this agreement," he added.

He hailed the close defence cooperation between the two countries and welcomed the completion of the logistics agreement between the two navies. “In the coming times, dealing with cyber security and extremism and terrorism will be important areas of our cooperation," the prime minister said.

Modi and Lee also exchanged views on the regional and global challenges and reiterated their principled position on maritime security and expressed commitment to ‘Rules Based’ Order. The two leaders also agreed on the need to maintain an open, stable and fair international trade regime. “We also agreed for a peaceful, open, and friendly maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region," Modi said.

On his part, Lee said the bilateral defence ties have grown stronger. “Our defence ties have strengthened, our navies have signed an agreement today on logistics cooperation and will also celebrate 25th anniversary of annual Singapore-India maritime bilateral exercise this year," Lee said.

Modi said Singapore has always been a source of foreign direct investment for India and also investments in foreign countries. It has also been a favourite destination for Indian investments abroad, he added. “I am happy to note that Indian companies use Singapore as a spring board for not only this country but for the entire ASEAN region. For Singaporean companies, as India develops, opportunities are coming up," he said.

Recalling his meeting with CEOs on Thursday, Modi said he was happy to see that top executives of many important companies looking at India with confidence. Modi said the air traffic between India and Singapore is growing rapidly and both countries will enter into a new ‘Air Service Agreement’ soon. He said the international launch of RuPay, BHIM and UPI based remittance app in Singapore on Thursday represented Digital India initiative and the renewed partnership between the two sides. Lee said Indian tourists will be able to use their RuPay cards for electronic payments at Changi airport and selected operators across Singapore.

Modi, who arrived in Singapore on Thursday on the last leg of his three-nation visit, earlier made a courtesy call on president Halimah Yacob after a welcome ceremony at the Istana where he was given a guard of honour. “Prime Minister Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome on his arrival at Istana—Presidential Palace of Singapore. Millennia old ties now powered by partnership in innovation and technology," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Modi and Yacob exchanged views to strengthen bilateral relations and explored further cooperation in the flagship initiatives of the government.

“Close ties rooted in commercial, cultural and people to people links. Prime Minister Modi called on President of Singapore Halimah Yacob," Kumar said. Modi earlier visited Indonesia and Malaysia.

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